A List of Nothing in Particular .pdf

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Author: Sarah Crosby

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A List of Nothing in Particular
by William Least Heat-Moon
~an excerpt~
(1) Straight as a chief's countenance, the road lay ahead, curves so long and gradual as to be
imperceptible except on the map. For nearly a hundred miles due west of Eldorado, not a single
town. It was the Texas some people see as barren waste when they cross it, the part they later
describe at the motel bar as "nothing." They say, "There's nothing out there."
(2) Driving through the miles of nothing, I decided to test the hypothesis and stopped
somewhere in western Crockett County on the top of a broad mesa, just off Texas 29. At a
distance, the land looked so rocky and dry, a religious man could believe that the First Hand
never got around to the creation in here. Still, somebody had decided to string barbed wire
around it.
(3) No plant grew higher than my head. For a while, I heard only miles of wind against the
Ghost; but after the ringing in my ears stopped, I heard myself breathing, then a bird note, an
answering call, another king of birdsong, and another: mockingbird, mourning dove, an enigma.
I heard the high zizz of flies the color of gray flannel and the deep buzz of a blue bumblebee. I
made a list of nothing in particular:
1. mockingbird
2. mourning dove
3. enigma bird (heard not saw)
4. gray flies
5. blue bumblebee
6. two circling buzzards (not yet, boys)
7. orange ants
8. black ants
9. orange-black ants (what's been going on?)
10. three species of spiders
11. opossum skull
12. jackrabbit (chewed on cactus)
13. deer (left scat)
14. coyote (left tracks)
15. small rodent (den full of seed hulls under rock)
16. snake (skin hooked on cactus spine)
17. prickly pear cactus (yellow blossoms)
18. hedgehog cactus (orange blossoms)
19. barrel cactus (red blossoms)
20. devil's pincushion (no blossoms)
21. catclaw (no better name)
22. two species of grass (neither green, both alive)
23. yellow flowers (blossoms smaller than peppercorns)
24. sage (indicates alkali-free soil)

25. mesquite (three-foot plants with eighty-foot roots to reach water that fell as rain two
thousand years ago)
26. greasewood (oh, yes)
27. joint fir (steeped stems make Brigham Young tea)
28. earth
29. sky
30. wind (always)
That was all the nothing I could identify then, but had waited until dark when the desert really
comes to the life, I could have done better. To say nothing is out her is incorrect; to say the desert
is stingy with everything except space and light, stone and earth is closer to the truth.

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